A few weeks back we explored the ghost town of Comet, Montana followed by a free place to camp nearby in the following week’s entry.
If you have placed Comet on your “to do” list for next summer’s RV adventures, then you will want to head south about 60 miles to the Smuggler Mine where you will find more historic ruins to explore and of course more free places to camp. I love free!
Following is a brief history of the mine. The mine was first claimed in 1897 by John and Thomas Cavanaugh, James McDonnell, Mrs. Clara Conley and Carrie Herman. By the late 1920s the Smuggler Mine property consisted of 13 unpatented claims producing primarily gold with some silver. A hydroelectric plant located above the mine powered a 100 ton amalgamation and concentration mill. Additional improvements at the mine included nearly 25 buildings including an office, assay office and numerous cabins to house approximately 45 people, most are still standing today. At one time the site had running water, electric and telephone systems.
While records are spotty through the years, documented production from 1930 to 1933 reported that $24,117.03 in gold or roughly 1,040 ounces was mined during that period. In today’s dollars that is equivalent to over 1.1 million. The mine operated until 1942 and then again in the 1950’s, however no further production was documented or taxed during those times. A new adit was opened in 2010 in a renewed hope to find gold, but little ore was shipped and the site was again abandoned.
Exploring the mining history of Montana where it happened, without admission to a museum, just another adventure in RVing!
Next week I will share several free camping options near the mine site. Stay tuned!
If you go:
From Sheridan, Montana head east approximately 8 miles on Mill Creek Road where you will find the mining camp on your left. Those of you navigating by GPS will find the “Grand Entrance” to the mining camp at N45° 28.829′ W112° 02.369′
The site is protected under the American Antiquities Act of 1906 which prohibits the removal of artifacts or destruction of historic structures. The mine is also currently claimed making it illegal to remove minerals without the claim owners consent. Please respect it and take only pictures.
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.
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